Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Shadow of Sirius by W.S. Merwin

I showed the interview of Merwin with Bill Moyers to my creative writing class and became inspired to buy a copy of this collection, which Merwin frequently read from during the interview.

The poems are exactly the kind I love to read – simple, straightforward with some surprising and highly pleasing insights. I will buy some more of his verse as I come across them. Considering the fact that he has published almost 30 volumes, I can’t bust my budget to complete the collection as I would like to do.

As is my custom when reading a volume of poetry, I mark ones I especially love for quoting here. I marked about 20 in Shadow, so I had a hard time figuring which I would quote. “Cold Spring Morning” kept popping up, so here it is:

“At times it has seemed that when
I first came here it was an old self
I recognized in the silent walls
and the river far below
but the self has no age
as I knew even then and had known
for longer than I could remember
as the sky has no sky
except itself this white morning in May
with fog hiding the barns
that are empty now and hiding the mossed
limbs of gnarled walnut trees and the green
pastures unfurled along the slope
I know where they are and the birds
that are hidden in their own calls
in the cold morning
I was not born here I come and go” (82).

I felt myself in this poem as I recalled that day back in 1993 when I moved to Texas – alone, knowing not a soul at the age of 45. If I can write one poem this wonderful, this powerful, and so full of truth – not only for me, but for some stranger who happens to read it, then I will be allowed to consider myself a poet.

You need to read Merwin. Over and over and again and again. 5 stars

--Chiron, 4/16/11

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